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  March 4, 2000



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The Rock knows his role
By GLENN COLE -- Toronto Sun

  Four years ago, a young man stood in the corner of a SkyDome press box.

 No one had talked to him for a while. It was understandable as Vince McMahon, the head of the World Wrestling Federation, was the centre of attention.

 The young man was the new kid in the WWF, which at the time was struggling, getting beaten badly in the U.S. television ratings by the rival World Championship Wrestling.

 Yesterday, that young man was back in town. And you couldn't get near him for the crowds.

 The Rock has the city of Toronto in his hands.

 In fact, he has all of the wrestling fans in North America in his hands.

 If there were any doubts about the Rock's popularity, they were erased yesterday. Several hundred fans were in a downtown movie theatre for his news conference. And there was a long lineup outside a nearby bookstore where The Rock was signing copies of his book The Rock Says ...

 Give the man credit. He knows what he is doing, both in the ring and out of it. In his early WWF career, there were those who felt he was a mid-carder and would be nothing more than that. Well, look at him now.

 He has grown so much in popularity that NBC's Saturday Night Live has engaged him to be the host of their popular program two weeks from tonight. The only other wrestler hired to be a guest host of the show was Hulk Hogan many years ago.

 With his work ethic, and the fact that Stone Cold Steve Austin is on the sidelines recovering from neck surgery, there is little doubt that The Rock, who will appear in a movie called Mummy II, is the No. 1 attraction the WWF has.

 "We're in the business of entertaining," said The Rock, who entertained questions from both the media and fans in the movie theatre before leaving to sign books.

 "Characters like The Rock, Stone Cold, Triple H (Hunter Hearst Helmsley) and Mick Foley ... there is a lot of crossover appeal there.

 ENTERTAINER

 "Of course, there is the fact that there's no longer people pulling the wool over anybody's eyes. What we do is sports entertainment. It is choreographed. It is predetermined. Getting over that stereotypical bump, we as entertainers are able to put out an entertaining product."

 Originally, the word was that The Rock would answer questions only about his book, which vaulted to No. 1 on best-seller lists after only four days on the market. But he relented. He smoothly answered questions from the media about his book and WWF happenings. Then he entertained queries from the fans who had welcomed him with a "Rocky, Rocky, Rocky" chant.

 There has been divided opinion about the book, which itself almost seems split in two.

 The first part deals with the growing and maturing of Dwayne Johnson, The Rock's alter ego. The second part deals with the character of The Rock and how it has developed quickly into one of the most popular in wrestling history.

 He has taken a bit of heat for writing the second half of the book "in character."

 "I think when you look at the character of The Rock, his first and foremost purpose is to entertain the fans like nobody else can," The Rock said. "The feeling I got going from Dwayne to The Rock (in the book) and speaking in the third person was that it was just entertainment."

 Come to think of it, that is what The Rock was doing most of yesterday.

 The man knows his role and he doesn't have to wait in a corner to see if someone wants to talk to him.

 Everyone wants a piece of The Rock.

More on The Rock




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